World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued new guidelines, highlighting that better homes invariably lead to better standards of health.
It said, “housing is becoming increasingly important to health in light of urban growth, aging populations, and climate change.”
According to the agency, studies had shown that poor housing had implications for a wide range of health conditions, including respiratory, cardiovascular and infectious diseases such as asthma, tuberculosis, influenza, and diarrhoea, as well as mental health.
Developed based on systematic reviews, the WHO Housing and Health Guidelines provided recommendations based on the health issues caused by inadequate living space, extreme indoor temperatures, injury hazards in the home, and the accessibility of housing for people with disabilities or who face other impairments.
In addition, the guidelines identified and summarised existing WHO recommendations related to housing, with respect to water quality, air quality, neighbourhood noise, asbestos, lead, tobacco smoke, and indoor radon emissions – a radioactive gas linked to cancer deaths.
The WHO guidelines also highlighted the significant co-benefits of improving housing conditions, citing installation of efficient and safe thermal insulation to improve indoor temperatures.
It added that safe thermal installation also helps in lowering energy costs and reducing carbon emissions.
The guidelines noted that improved housing conditions could save lives, reduce disease, increase quality of life, reduce poverty, and help mitigate climate change.
It emphasised that these could contribute towards the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to health (Goal 3) and sustainable cities (Goal 11)
It noted that “housing is, therefore, a major entry point for public health programmes and primary prevention.”